Housebond Horror: Abstention

Abstention is a horror game but the trailer looks more like a video interpretation of a glossy real estate brochure. The attractive lake house that the camera pokes around is the game’s setting – one exquisitely crafted location that changes as time passes. Or fails to pass. There’s a twist, you see. A twist in time. The game doesn’t just take place in a single location, it takes place in a single night that loops, resetting and forcing the player to live through the nightmare again, attempting to avoid the same mistakes, to solve the mysteries of the house and to survive.

I’m all for trudging through forty hours of procedurally generated corridors and dungeons, but I’m immediately attracted to games that focus on a single space. Abstention does randomise some elements of the house on each playthrough but it’s the location of objects and specific features of rooms rather than the whole building. The appeal of that single space isn’t specifically related to my affection for the same in theatre and film (gimme 12 Angry Men, The Caretaker and Endgame) – in a game it’s the fine detail and familiarity that appeals rather than any absurd recognition of the medium’s limits, or claustrophobia.

As well as the single location and time loop, Absention has a single intelligent enemy. You get a glimpse of it (I’m guessing) in the trailer and, yes, I think it looks a bit naff. Given the work that has gone into the environments, hopefully the creature is going to receive similar attention.

I’d have gone with Gone Home meets Groundwerehog Day but Dream Wave have their own list of inspirations:

Absention is inspired by some of my favorite horror video games and films like Silent Hill, Alien, Resident Evil, Eternal Darkness, and Kubrick’s The Shining. I enjoy the challenge of overcoming fear while being mentally challenged and uncovering an interesting narrative.

First conceived in 2012 after I graduated college with a degree in Interactive Entertainment, Absention aims to capture true survival horror in the most immersive and mind-bending ways.

If I have to sum it all up, imagine the Spencer Mansion (Resident Evil) in First Person but with a single, intelligent enemy hunting you. I want to make that.

The game is currently pre-alpha. I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

20 Comments

  1. pepperfez says:

    I don’t know if “but” is the proper conjunction in that first sentence.

  2. communisthamster says:

    Splindly, antlered, wrong-looking things are just the sort of thing that will cause me to be found dead with an Oculus Rift strapped to my face. I look forward to it.

  3. Freud says:

    Great game for role playing an insane person doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

  4. Robert Post's Child says:

    Well this certainly seems promising. I’d say I want to see more, but I get the feeling this will be one I’d prefer to go in knowing as little as possible beforehand.

  5. Lars Westergren says:

    Great sense of growing unease in the music. Good audio is such an important part of a horror game.

    Very interested in this one.

  6. Monkeh says:

    The dear head on the wall becomes alive and grows a body at night? :P

  7. djadomi says:

    “Abstention”. Heh.

  8. Aldehyde says:

    I am a little puzzled as to how you managed to write Abstention with a T three times (once in the title!) when the game is clearly called Absention. Absent of the T.

    Outrageous.

    • Aldehyde says:

      Could also perhaps be a moment to write “whoosh” in reply to my comment. If the Abstention was supposed to be a clever little joke. I’m just making it worse.

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Hmm so this is what happens to all those Unreal Rngine 4 “architectural visualisation” demos for the Oculus Rift that no one wants.

    • Rae says:

      Well, at least it looks fun unlike OR. The game looked more promising if they had not showed the monster at the end really. Hopefully, it won’t have annoying puzzles like one room escapes.

  10. BirdsUseStars says:

    The dog monster from ghostbusters?

  11. death_au says:

    I like the idea of the time loop mechanic. It takes a key conceit of video games ever since saving was invented (die, repeat with foreknowledge) and ties it into the mechanics and the narrative.

    I watched “Edge of Tomorrow” the other day, and it got me thinking about how a similar plot could be used in a video game. It would have to be able to be completed in one single playthrough with no dying, but dying would be important in learning how not to die next time, as well as exploring alternate options to reveal more about the plot. That seems like what this game is trying to achieve, just in a much prettier setting.